Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Moscow Rules

I just finished reading Daniel Silva's spy novel Moscow Rules, and as usual, it was an exciting and absorbing tale.  It once again features Israeli spy Gabriel Allon and the usual cast of characters, this time trying to stop an unscrupulous Russian oligarch from selling sophisticated missiles to al-Qaeda.  The novel finishes with a harrowing escape from Russia.  As I mentioned in a previous Blog, I accidentally read the sequel to this story -The Defector - first by mistake, which at least allowed me to know beforehand that the story would have a happy ending, of sorts.  And after reading quite a few of Silva's books, I think I would advise younger readers to avoid a career as a spy. The tension will kill you, if the Russians and terrorists don't.  Perhaps law might be a better, but much more boring choice.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Glory Of Venice At The DAM

I visited the Denver Art Museum (The DAM) Sunday afternoon and toured it's latest exhibit, "The Glory of Venice: Masterworks of the Renaissance,"  and I must say I really enjoyed it, too.  The Denver Art Museum does a great job with these special exhibits, which in this case featured  floor to ceiling photographs of Venice, soft, appropriately Italian background music, and of course well displayed artworks.  It made for a pleasant Sunday afternoon and a bit of an escape from a sunny but brisk and windy fall day.

The artwork consisted, as you might suspect, of Italian Renaissance masters, including Giovanni Bellini, Titian, and Giorgione.  I took the liberty of taking the figures from one of Titian's masterpieces and combining it with one of the exhibit's floor to ceiling photographs of a Venetian piazza - a much more agreeable composition, if I say so myself (see photo at right). Bellini, by the way, was - according to the museum placards - one of the "stylistic and technical innovators of the later 1400s."  His pupils included Titian, the older Giorgione, and - much later, of course - Andy Warhol.

There were several other special exhibits at the museum, too.  One, titled "What It Meant To Be Modern, 1910-1965" featured American works on paper by 5 artists (Charles Sheeler, John Marin, Charles Burchfield, Oscar Bluemner, and Stuart Davis).  All were colorful, interesting, and wonderful.  The other special exhibit was titled "Start Wars And The Power Of Costume."  As you can see from the photo on the left, museum patrons were lining up in droves to see this one. You had to pay extra to see it, and so for me it was a skip.  But I ask you - are Star Wars costumes really art?  Or just a way to earn enough revenue to pay for the stuff that really is.  But what do I know - I'm just a simple kid from the South Side of Chicago.  That's where I learned about the Bellini - Warhol connection, by the way.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Christmas Season Has Begun!

Thanksgiving and Black Friday are clearly in the rear view mirror, and the Christmas holiday season is now underway.  Here in Denver, the "Downtown Denver Grand Illumination" event took place last Friday night, lighting up all of downtown, including the City and County Building and Union Station. After visiting the art museum yesterday afternoon, I decided to drop by Union Station to see the building's facade and the Christmas tree out front.  I was sorry to see neither a colorful facade nor a lighted tree, and instead went inside to take photographs.

As long as I was here anyway, I decided to get a pint of beer (Yes - just one! They cost a lot here) at the Terminal Bar, seen in the photograph on the right.  And as regular Blog readers know, this Terminal Bar is named after the original Terminal Bar, a Jack Kerouac hangout that used to be located in a building just down the street.  And let's face it - this is not Kerouac's kind of hangout.  I don't think he would have been too crazy about the hipster atmosphere, especially if he had to pay more than 80 cents for a beer. My kind of guy. And by the way - I guess I was just there too early to see the Christmas lights.  They are evidently just meant for night owls.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Time For Canon Camera Number Three

I have used a Canon G9 camera for many years now, but unfortunately not the same one.  The first G9, which I bought new, I dropped on the sidewalk of the Santa Fe Arts District here in Denver, and when I brought it in to be repaired, I was told it was too old for them to repair.  Talk about an insult to recycling. Happily, I found I could buy a used replacement for the same amount it would have cost to fix it.  However, just a few weeks after I received the new used camera (seen in the photograph above), I'll be damned if I didn't drop it on the brick pavement in front of the Jax Seafood House, which many years ago used to be the The Terminal Bar, one of Jack Kerouac's Denver hangouts.  Did the ghost of Jack Kerouac reach out, grab the camera, and smash it to the ground in anger?  That's my explanation.  In any case, at first the camera didn't work, but later on that night it did.  But I always used to have trouble with it, often having to fiddle with the damn thing before it would finally turn on.  Then, while going through security at the airport last week, my camera case slid off my belt and hit the floor, and that was that.  When I told of this tragedy to my friends and relatives, they actually seemed pretty happy about it, but I could tell that inside they were weeping - no more candid photographs of them to put on my blog.  But don't underestimate the strength of the internet's used camera market.  My new used Canon G9 (a steal at $135, with postage paid) arrived yesterday. Watch out people, here I come!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Mutt Of The Month

This month's choice for the Mutt of the Month goes to the dog in the photograph above, who barked his head off at me from the safety of a rooftop deck.  I took the photo after work one afternoon while walking down 17th Street toward Denver's Union Station and the Light Rail train.  I have noticed that the safer the place a dog is located, the louder and more obnoxious it becomes.  I remember my dog Irma would bark her head off at anything going down the alley from the safety of the backyard of our house back in the South Side Brainerd neighborhood of Chicago, but if someone even got close to the fence, she would scurry away fast.  Kind of like Donald Trump.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving With Susan And George

I drove up to Fort Collins (about 70 mile north of Denver) yesterday to have Thanksgiving dinner with my sister Susan and brother-in-law George.  Their oven is on the fritz, and so they cooked their turkey in a deep fryer, which George's friends say is the only way to go.  Just watch out for that hot boiling oil.  A pleasant time was had by all, and thankfully the subject of politics did not come up, which is saying something in that household.  In any case, it is like pulling teeth trying to get a photograph of the two of them. Susan especially hates to have her photograph taken, and once playfully came at me with a butcher knife until I put the camera down.  I just don't understand that attitude.  But I do still want to live, so I have to be very circumspect about photos these days.  After a bit of prodding, I was able to take the  above photograph of Susan and George at their Thanksgiving table, without any knives being pulled.  A Thanksgiving miracle.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is Thanksgiving Day, and here in Denver the day begins with The Turkey Trot, an early morning 4 mile run/walk sponsored by Mile High United Way. Even thought it starts in Washington Park, just a short distance from here, I have never attended in the 43 years it has been held.  I guess that shows what kind of a runner I am.  And as far as I am concerned, Thanksgiving is all about families getting together and enjoying each other's company.  Eating turkey is traditional, but it really doesn't matter as long as you are all together. My mother Mary  and father Nelson (seen back in 1957 in the photo on the left) always loved holding family dinners, and actually enjoyed putting them together and inviting everyone over.

And I know I have used the photograph on the right every year, and to be honest I am now not even 100% sure it was taken at Thanksgiving, but it shows a family gathering in the dining room of our house in the South Side Brainerd neighborhood of Chicago, probably around 1957.  Regular Blog readers by now can probably recognize everyone in the photo.  For the record - from left to right - they are Aunt Kitty (my Grandfather Spillard's sister), my mother Mary, my Grandmother Spillard (my mother's mother), my Grandmother Hoyt (my father's mother), me at my most charming best, and in the cage, Petie the parakeet.  And so I want to wish that everyone has a nice dinner with their families tonight.  Just don't talk about Donald Trump - we don't want any fistfights to break out.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Goodbye - For Now - To Stuart, Florida

I said goodbye to Stuart, Florida - for now, anyway - hoping my condo will now be acceptable to someone wanting to rent it for the season.  I did my best, but when you rent a place, there are always things people wind up being unhappy about.  We'll just have to see, I guess.  In any case, on my last day in Stuart, I walked through Shepard's Park, located along the St. Lucie River on the west side of town.  The park has a nice boardwalk, allowing you to walk out into the river past the mangroves and get a feel for what the riverside looked like before the explosion of condo developments in the area.  A few summers ago, I went there at sunset and found a large group of hippie types playing various kind of drums, evoking images from the 1960s.  There were no hippies this time, and so I headed to the Sunset Bay Marina, where I took the above photo.  It somehow seems appropriate to end each visit here with a sunset photo, even if my old photograph professor at the University of Denver says they are cliches.  In point of fact, I am very fond of cliches.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Trip To Miami

The handyman I hired to fix up my sister and my condo in Stuart, Florida seemed to not want me looking over his shoulder all day this past Saturday, and so I decided to head for Miami and play tourist for the day.  The last time I drove to Miami, the traffic was horrible. There were several accidents that slowed traffic to a crawl on the way down, and on the way back I-95 was closed due to another accident.  I remember driving west through what seemed like the Everglades to find the beltway that would once again take me north.  In other words, the trip home took hours.  That's why I decided to park at the rail station in West Palm Beach and take the Tri-Rail to Miami, where I took the photograph on the left of the Miami skyline as I was standing in front of Miami City Hall.

I started off touring Coconut Grove, a very trendy and expensive part of Miami.  All the beautiful people were at the bistros having brunch, and there was an art show being held on the grounds of The Barnacle, a state park right in the heart of Coconut Grove.  The Barnacle is a house built in the 1870s by an early settler, and sits on the remaining 40 acres of a once very sizable property.  The house and grounds show what Florida was like back when it was basically a frontier, and I once again have to commend the State of Florida for preserving what must have been a very desirable target for developers.  The photo on the right shows the path leading to the house, which sits on a rise overlooking Biscayne Bay.

After spending a few hours in Coconut Grove, I took Miami's version of a light rail train (the Metrorail), to the Metromover (a small driverless train that loops around downtown) to Bayside, an upscale shopping center located on Biscayne Bay.  I have been there before, and was running late, so I hopped on the C bus to Miami Beach, where I planned to party with the hipsters.  After having dinner at the Burger King on Washington Street (a whopper and a beer, and yes - the Burger King on Miami Beach serves beer!), I headed to Ocean Drive to walk down the very crowded sidewalk and wait for sunset, when I could take some photographs of the famous Art Deco hotels all lite up with neon.  The most iconic of these hotels is The Colony, which is seen in the photograph on the left.

And of course, my Canon G9 Camera, with which I have been having off and on problems with the battery, starting switching off, and I had to keep trying to switch it back on until it would finally restart.  An early photographer once said photography was all about "the decisive moment," which is when you must snap the shutter.  None of that defining moment stuff with this model.  I am damn lucky all these hotels don't move.  And after walking among the young, hard-partying crowds, I began to long for a little peace and quiet, and headed back to the Tri-Rail Station, where I had to wait an hour and a half for a train.  They had trains running every hour until 7:00 P.M. There were no trains at either 8:00 or 9:00, and the last train of the evening came at 9:52.  As you can imagine, the train was packed - standing room only.  I guess the Tri-Rail people feel nobody in their right mind wants to leave Miami before 10:00.  As a result, I didn't get home until 12:30 A.M, which as I recall was the same time I got home when I drove back from Miami last time.  Go figure.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Back In The Sunshine State!

I headed back to Stuart, Florida this past weekend to follow up on some repairs I hired a handyman to do at the condo my sister and I own in Stuart, Florida, and this time was able to visit a few of my favorite places during the trip, including the House of Refuge, seen in the photograph on the left and still standing after 140 years.  It was built in 1876, to rescue sailors who had the misfortune to get shipwrecked on Gilbert's Bar, just off the coast, long before there was any civilization around here - not even a Benihana of Tokyo.

After doing a few errands the rest of the day, I stopped at my favorite watering hole in Stuart, The Jolly Sailor, for a couple of pints of Fat Tire (one of Colorado's famous microbrews, I might add).  The Jolly Sailor is an outside bar that is attached to a high end restaurant called the Sailor's Return (see photo on right), which I have never eaten at, since as Blog readers are well aware, I am a notorious cheapskate.  The experience was not only enjoyable. sitting at the bar and looking out at all the boats in the marina, but also educational. Before going into the Jolly Sailor, I walked around the Sunset Marina and looked at all the yachts, seeing if any were for sale so I could sail the seven seas during my retirement.  I saw one that was from Ocho Rios, a place I have never heard of before.

Later, sitting at the bar, I used my relatively new smart phone to look up Ocho Rios on Google.  It is a city on the northeast coast of Jamaica.  The boat was a very large, ocean going yacht, which would be perfect for me.  However, it didn't appear to be for sale.  Several yachts were, however.  I could have written down the phone numbers and given the yacht brokers an offer, but I didn't feel like being laughed at that night.  And yes, I did put down the phone - unlike a lot of younger people around me - once the sun started to set, as seen in the photograph on the left.  You can't beat a Florida sunset, especially over the St. Lucie River.  Paradise at last.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

And Now For Some Florida Nostalgia

I took the photograph on the left of my mother Mary and father Nelson back in the late 1970s in Key West, Florida.  My parents and my sister Susan and I drove to Key West from Stuart, Florida, where my mother and father had recently bought a condo.  My father was a dentist in Chicago, and absolutely hated it, and so he was just thrilled when he could finally retire to Florida and play golf. My mother was not happy about moving to Flordia, and felt she was moving there just to please my father.  However, after living there a few months, she began to love it, and lived there happily for the next 30 years.

Every morning during our visits, my father would get up early and make us all a big breakfast.  He was happy to be retired, and happy to have us visiting, so he actually enjoyed preparing meals for us.  And then we would go out exploring Stuart, Florida and it's environs.  One time I came down to Stuart with my Great Aunt Babe (in the photograph on the right) and her daughter-in-law Lorrie (on the left).  My parents wanted to show them  the highlights of Stuart, and so we took a drive along the Indian River, a very picturesque road that winds from Stuart to Fort Pierce.  My Aunt Babe was evidently not impressed, as halfway through the ride she asked when we were going to get out of this swampy crud.  You can't please everyone, I guess.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

More Brainerd Memories

Today I am featuring a photograph of my father Nelson, sister Susan, Grandmother Spillard, and dog Irma on the occasion of my graduation from Fort Dearborn Grammar School back in 1966.  It was taken (I think by me) in the backyard of our house at 9314 South Aberdeen Street in the South Side Chicago neighborhood of Brainerd.  In the photograph, you can see my bedroom window on the second floor, just above the back porch my father had added to the house.  When Susan went off to school at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, I inherited that bedroom from her.  When she came back from college, she wound up sleeping on the hide-a-bed sofa on the back porch.  And when did she get over this outrage?  Actually, she still hasn't, and brought it up as recently as last week.  Surprise!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Best State Ever!

I just finished reading Dave Barry's new book Best State Ever, and found it pretty amusing.  It is a humorous defense of the State of Florida, which Dave Barry feels has become a laughing stock for the rest of the country.  Not only is the book funny, but I found it pretty informative, too.  As I mentioned the previous week, I visited Florida's Silver Springs for the first time in 53 years with my friends Ana Silvia and Joe last month. Silver Springs, an old time Florida tourist attraction, is now a state park, and I was very surprised to read in Barry's book that Wiki Waki Springs - famous for it's kitchie underwater mermaid routines  - is also now a state park.  Florida is making an effort to save it's past, and I find that an admirable thing.  Life is still good in the Sunshine State!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

How Can It Almost Be Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving Day is exactly one week away, and I am still trying to figure out what the hell happened to summer.  Christmas decorations are going up, daylight savings time is over, and darkness comes around five in the afternoon in Denver these days.  A very depressing time, as far as I'm concerned.  In northern regions, I imagine it is dark 24/7, which must be ten times worse.  I once thought of booking a flight on Icelandic Air to Reykjavik during December, thinking the flight would be dirt cheap, but it was still $700 round trip.  So forget it.  I definitely intend to celebrate the winter solstice - when the light gradually starts to return - big time this year.  Those Druids definitely know what is important in life.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Pilates Still Popular At The Denver Zoo

It was closing time at the Denver Zoo this past Sunday, the sun had set, and most of the animals were inside. As I was heading for the exit, I glanced through the doorway of the elephant house and noticed an elephant doing it's Pilates routine, as seen in the photograph on the left.  Good to know that even the animals at the zoo like to work out and keep in shape.  The only thing that surprised me was that I thought Pilates had gone out of fashion.  Not at the Denver Zoo, I guess.  Stay fit and healthy till you're dead is the lesson here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Catting Around

I went to the Denver Zoo this past Sunday for a couple of hours to walk around and take a few photographs.  The weather has been very mild this fall, and the place was packed.  My first stop was at the lion compound, but I was dismayed to find that the hyenas were roaming the lion compound, while the 4 teenage lions were in a small enclosure in back, amusing themselves by bugging the hell out of each other (see photograph above).  I say there is no reason while the hyenas and lions can't share that large compound together. If a fight occurs, just send in a trainee to break it up. That's how trainees learn their jobs, right?

Monday, November 14, 2016

Dog Of The Week

This week's Dog of the Week was seen relaxing on the front porch of an old Victorian home in North Denver's San Rafael Historic District.  It is a tree covered, quiet neighborhood of 1870s era Victorians, and I must say the dog was pretty mellow.  If the purpose of having the dog tied up by the front door was to scare away intruders, it was not working, unless the owners thought being licked to death would scare off any undesirables.  Of course, it certainly would me.  I sure didn't hang around long.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

An Expensive Window Repair

A team of 5 people from the glass company came to replace the glass in my patio door last Thursday.  For the past month, I have had a piece of cardboard covering the hole where someone threw a rock though the door one night.  The outer walls of my condo consist of floor to ceiling patio doors, which makes for a bright and cheerful living space, but I'm afraid I have always ignored the old saying "people who live in glass houses shouldn't write blogs."  Of course, I really don't believe the rock was thrown because of my blog.  Unfairly or not, because I live across the street from the University of Denver, in a building filled with DU students, and the fact that the rock was thrown after 2:00 A.M. - after the bars close in Denver - I suspect the incident involved students and alcohol.  It cost almost $1,000 (most paid by the insurance company, of course, but still a lot of money) to replace the panel, and the glass company crew told me that the glass went into the elevator with only an eighth of an inch to spare.  The high cost of hi-jinks.  But I am not bitter. Much.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Celebrating A Semi Victory At Old Chicago

Stuart and I got together at the Old Chicago Restaurant in beautiful and exotic Lakewood, Colorado to celebrate two victories this past Thursday night.  We thought we would be celebrating both the first Chicago Cubs World Series victory since 1908 (a mere 108  years ago) and Hillary Clinton's election as America's first woman president.  Well, Stuart is smiling about the Cubs victory, but he wasn't celebrating about the presidential election results, that's for sure. But hey, Donald Trump types come and go, but a Cubs World Series victory is a once in a lifetime experience.  Enjoy it while you can!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Happy Veterans Day!

Today is Veterans's Day, and in honor of this I am featuring a photograph taken of my father Nelson back when he was in the army during World War II.  My father was a dentist and in his mid-thirties when he was drafted, and so it came as a bit of a shock.  His friend Ed was at our house ( I say "our" house but this was years before I was born) when my father received his telegram from Uncle Sam, and thought it was really funny.  Then Ed went home and found a telegram waiting for him, too.  Ed wound up going to Paris, while my father was sent to battle teeth and typhoons in a tent on Okinawa.  The famous Hoyt luck strikes again.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Defector

I just finished reading The Defector, by Daniel Silva, and found it to be a very exciting, very good read.  The first book I ever read by Silva was The Fallen Angel, and I have read each of his new books as they came out. I am now starting to read the books before The Fallen Angel, which is how I happened to read The Defector.  The only negative was that after I started the book, I realized that it was the sequel to Moscow Rules, the previous book in the series.  I am going to read that book next, but I recommend reading Moscow Rules first, and then The Defector after that to anyone thinking of taking up my recommendation. And God knows there must be thousands of you out there who constantly do that, right?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Gates Of Hell

Is this a reference to yesterday's surprise Trump victory in the presidential race?  It would certainly be appropriate, but in this case I am referring to an article I  recently read about Denver's haunted buildings. Evidently, the old Arapahoe County Courthouse was rumored to be the location of the gates of hell.  When prison guards took the elevator to the building's basement, they would see deceased convicts walking toward the entrance to hell.  Understandably, a lot of these guards were not too crazy about working there. The building was (very understandably) torn down years ago, and a Sheraton Hotel is now located on that site along Denver's 16th Street Mall.  The hotel is now guarded by the ballerina statues seen in the photograph above, festively dressed for fall in Denver.  And no, there have been no paranormal sightings in the Sheraton's basement.  However, I would strongly recommend avoiding going down there after dark, just to be on the safe side.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A Broncos Kind Of Evening

I went up to Fort Collins this past Sunday with pizza and beer to spend the evening with my sister Susan and brother-in-law George.  However, I had forgotten - or simply just didn't realize - that the Denver Broncos of the National Football League were playing their division rivals, the Oakland Raiders, and like in virtually every other household in Colorado, the evening revolved around the game.  And it was ugly - the Raiders dominated the contest and won 30 to 20.  Which meant the entire city of Denver was in an all day funk Monday.  Football is serious business here.  It is covered by the media year round, and even if nuclear war broke out, that story would always be second to that day's Bronco story.  Is there a cure for this mass hysteria?  I have lived in Denver for 35 years, and the answer is sadly no.  Perhaps if Doctor Phil were consulted?

Monday, November 7, 2016

Remembering Larry...

A few of the old University of Denver Bookstore gang got together Friday night for dinner and drinks, and one of the main topics of conversation was the passing of our friend and former co-worker Larry, who was suffering from cancer and very ill the past few months.  Larry was one of the two Operation Coordinators for the DU Bookstore, and a heck of a nice guy.  He retired from the bookstore at 62, and passed away at 68, and so he had a mere 6 years of retirement.  And I have heard of many instances when someone retires after a lifetime of work and passes away just a short time later. Another lesson showing that we should enjoy life and live in the moment, since we don't know what the future will bring.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Exploring North Denver

Finally back in Denver, I decided to head for the zoo Saturday afternoon to take a few animal photographs for the Blog.  However, when I got there, I found out they had already switched to winter hours and had closed at 4:00 P.M. Because of this, I decided to drive west from the zoo (which is located in Denver's City Park) toward downtown.  Driving through the various neighborhoods along the way, I was reminded of just how many Victorian houses Denver has, and why Californians -who are used to paying several million for a Victorian in San Francisco - are moving here to buy similar houses at a fraction of the cost.

As long as I was in the neighborhood, I stopped in the San Rafael Historic District to take a few photographs.  A number of years ago, I took a photography class at the University of Denver and took a cityscape of some houses on Ogden Street.  The Victorians there were painted very vibrant blues, yellows, and other pastel colors and quite striking.  However, the houses have now been repainted and are more restrained in color.  To me they have lost their aesthetic appeal. Don't those owners know there are starving artists out there who need vibrant colors to give them inspiration?You would think that a street listed on the National Register of Historic Places would have restrictions to prevent them changing the colors, but I guess not.  And by the way, I first became aware of this area after seeing a note card by Barbara Froula, a local Denver artist (check out her web site at  I looked at Froula's website recently, and she no longer has a San Rafael note card for sale.  Probably just as disgusted as I am.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Sunset In Stuart

I am ending this Blog segment on Stuart, Florida the same way it began - with a photograph of the shoreline along the St. Lucie River, just a short walk away from my sister and my condo.  I took it the night before I returned to Denver, close to the same spot I took Tuesday's Blog photograph, only 24 years later.  The sailboat owned by one of the complexes' residents, as well as the blue heron that used to hang out there, are long gone, but the river and the sunsets are still beautiful.  A few months ago Stuart was in an uproar because the discharges sent into the river from Lake Okeechobee - courtesy of the Army Corps of Engineers - had caused a huge algae bloom along the river.  Lake Okeechobee is filled with pollutants from the sugar plantations near the lake, and this water was being sent down the St. Lucie to the ocean. Since the sugar plantation owners are so politically connected, the politicians in Florida until now have refused to stop the discharges.  Now, however, due to national publicity, they are being forced to take action, and not even get any bribes for doing it.  How sad.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Touring Silver Springs With Ana Silvia And Joe

I drove up to Ocala, Florida, this past Sunday from Stuart to visit my friends Ana Silvia and Joe, who moved there from Denver about 4 months ago. Ocala is about 70 miles from the Florida-Georgia line, and so it was a long drive from South Florida.  After showing me around their new house and serving a nice lunch, we drove to Silver Springs State Park, located just a short distance away.  I mentioned to Ana Silvia and Joe that I had ridden the glass bottom boats there during a trip to Florida in 1963 with my mother, father, and grandmother, and they treated me to another ride on it.

Silver Springs was a private operation until 2 or 3 years ago, when the State of Florida made it a state park to keep it in operation.  It is one of the original Florida tourist attractions, and the glass bottom boats take you on a tour of the springs, in which are both a 700 year old Native American canoe and a Spanish rowboat from the 1500s.  And I am happy to report that the boats are the very same ones I took in 1963, when I was 10 years old.  Talk about nostalgia.  And happily, another old time Florida tourist attraction, Cypress Gardens, has reopened - after closing a few years ago - as part of Lego-Land, whatever that might be.  No matter - old time tourist attractions still live in the Sunshine State, thank God. Next time I'll tell you about Harry and the Natives, located near Hobe Sound.  You'll just have to wait for that one.  Thanks for the boat ride, Ana Silvia and Joe!  Great to see you guys again.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Cubs World Series Victory, Dedicated Fans, And The Pool At Monterey

The Chicago Cubs won the World Series last night for the first time since 1908, a truly historic victory.  They are still probably celebrating back in Chicago.  Dedicated Cub fans have been a long suffering lot for decade after decade, and for the first time in living memory they no longer have to "wait until next year."  And when I think of dedicated baseball fans, I often think of the pool at the condo complex in Stuart, Florida, where my sister and I own a condo.  I went down to Stuart last week to get the condo ready to rent for the season (January through March), and took a break to walk around the pool, as seen in the photograph above.  The last time I was in it was around 1983, when the Atlanta Braves were trying to clinch a playoff spot.  This was before Florida had a baseball team, and people here followed the Braves.  I started talking to an older lady in the pool, and a short time later told me she had to leave and get ready to watch "our Braves" on the television. A true sports fan.  The Braves wound up blowing their chance at the World Series that year, as I remember, but this year the Cubs did not.  I congratulate the Chicago Cubs and their fans on this great victory. And by the way, it has been reported that hell has frozen over.  You heard it here first.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Stormy Weather

I arrived in Stuart, Florida this past Thursday morning and was able to get to the beach later that day.  The weather was overcast and very windy almost the entire time I was there.  It made for a very dramatic scene at the beach, however, with the waves constantly crashing against the shore.  Not too many people were actually on the beach, although the woman at Stuart Beach in the photograph above sure seemed to be enjoying it.  In any case, I was down there to fix up the condo my sister Susan and I inherited from my mother, in order to increase our chances of renting it for the season (January through March), and so I was not planning to do any beach walking anyway.  Besides, it would mess up what is left of my hair.  Can't have that.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Florida Kind Of Weekend!

I spent this past weekend in Stuart, Florida, where my sister Susan and I own a condo inherited from my mother Mary.  It was not exactly a pleasure trip - I was trying to fix the place up to rent for the season (January thru March or April).  It definitely needs work, but I had a little bit of fun on the trip, too, including visiting my friends Ana Silvia and Joe, who moved to Ocala, Florida this past spring. They bought a house just down the street from Silver Springs, which I visited with my parents and my Grandmother Spillard on a trip to Pompano Beach back in 1963.  And by the way, the photograph above was taken in 1992 of the St. Lucie River at sunset, just a few hundred feet from our condo. Sadly, the egret that used to hang out down there and Stewie Anderson's sailboat are both long gone, but the river and those beautiful sunsets are still there.  Thank God for that.